DAILY MAIL COMMENT: This mass shutdown defies logic, Prime Minister 

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DAILY MAIL COMMENT: This mass shutdown defies logic, Prime Minister

After a crisp winter walk in the glorious dales or high peaks of Derbyshire, nothing could be more natural than stopping for a restorative drink and hot lunch by the fire of a local pub.

Yet incredibly, the Government has now declared this simple pleasure to be illegal.

Because Derby and some other parts of the county are recording higher than national average Covid rates, the Peak District, where infections are relatively low and falling, must also suffer maximum Tier Three restrictions.

After a crisp winter walk in the glorious dales or high peaks of Derbyshire, nothing could be more natural than stopping for a restorative drink and hot lunch by the fire of a local pub. Pictured: Walkers in the Peak District 

Not only is this deeply unfair, it defies logic. In their myopic zeal to crush coronavirus, ministers and their scientific advisors are tearing at the very heart of countless local communities.

Anomalies are everywhere. Devon has some of the lowest rates in England. So why is the whole county in Tier Two?

In Tunbridge Wells, infections are below half the national average but because of hotspots on either side of the Medway, all of Kent has been placed under Tier Three.

In Tunbridge Wells, infections are below half the national average but because of hotspots on either side of the Medway, all of Kent has been placed under Tier Three. Pictured: People walk along the The Pantiles in Royal Tunbridge Wells

In Tunbridge Wells, infections are below half the national average but because of hotspots on either side of the Medway, all of Kent has been placed under Tier Three. Pictured: People walk along the The Pantiles in Royal Tunbridge Wells 

It’s the same story across the country. Infections are falling in 298 out of the 315 English districts, yet Cornwall is the only mainland area allowed into Tier One.

What was meant to be a three-tier system is effectively two. And both are disastrous for the overall health of the nation. Mental illness is growing to epidemic proportions, medical treatment of serious non-Covid ailments has all but collapsed and public confidence and wellbeing are ebbing.

Our economic health is in a parlous state, with businesses going to the wall every day (Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia chain being the latest on the brink), unemployment climbing and the hospitality industry in tatters.

When will the Prime Minister give in to his natural liberal instincts and free us from this unyielding straitjacket? Dozens of his own backbenchers – not to mention the wider public – are losing faith. And their dissatisfaction may soon explode into civil disobedience.

Although there are meant to be regular reviews of the tier allocations, a top Government scientist predicted yesterday that no area would drop into Tier One before the spring.

Our economic health is in a parlous state, with businesses going to the wall every day (Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia chain being the latest on the brink), unemployment climbing and the hospitality industry in tatters. Pictured: Outfit in Stoke-on-Trent

Our economic health is in a parlous state, with businesses going to the wall every day (Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia chain being the latest on the brink), unemployment climbing and the hospitality industry in tatters. Pictured: Outfit in Stoke-on-Trent

Let’s be clear what this means. For the next four months (apart from a few days over Christmas), families and friends from different households won’t be able to meet inside their homes, pubs or restaurants.

Grandparents won’t be able to hug their children and grandchildren, unless in the same bubble.

And that’s under the lower Tier Two rules. Tier Three is lockdown by another name.

Upwards of 50 Tory MPs – many from new ‘Red Wall’ seats – are threatening to rebel when Mr Johnson seeks Commons approval for his tier system next week.

The Mail understands the difficult position Mr Johnson is in, with scientists constantly insisting that any relaxation of restrictions will cost lives. Pictured: Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Public Health England site at Porton Down

The Mail understands the difficult position Mr Johnson is in, with scientists constantly insisting that any relaxation of restrictions will cost lives. Pictured: Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Public Health England site at Porton Down  

They are rightly furious about its arbitrary and open-ended nature. They demand greater transparency and a genuine route from higher to lower tiers where infections are low and falling.

Crucially, they also want regular assessments of the grievous damage these lockdowns are doing to the economy.

The Mail understands the difficult position Mr Johnson is in, with scientists constantly insisting that any relaxation of restrictions will cost lives. But he must look beyond their pathological pessimism and show leadership.

People are getting angry. If the Prime Minister does try to string out these draconian measures until Easter, more and more will simply opt to break the law. Should that happen, his authority would be shot to ribbons.

Yes, the vaccine is on its way but large swathes of our national life can’t wait four months for deliverance. We need an exit strategy now. One that will give us back at least some of the fundamental freedoms we have been made to forfeit for so long.

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